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Testimony Before House Committee on Homeland Security

Aired July 11, 2002 - 10:22   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to get to Capitol Hill, where Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is testifying before the new House committee on homeland security.

By the way, the Secretary has had thumb surgery, and that explains the big cast on his left hand.

Let's listen in.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECY. OF DEFENSE: ... and in these types of operations the Department of Defense often takes the lead, with other departments and agencies working in support of those efforts.

With regard to improving security at home, there are three circumstances under which DOD would be involved in activity within the United States.

First, under extraordinary circumstances that require the department to execute traditional military missions, such as combat air patrols and maritime defense operations. In these circumstances, DOD would take the lead in defending people in the territory of our country supported by other agencies. And plans for such contingencies would be coordinated, as appropriate, with the National Security Council and with the Department of Homeland Security.

Second is the emergency circumstance of a catastrophic nature. For example, responding to the consequences of attack, assisting in response, today, for example, with respect to forest fires or floods, tornadoes and the like. In these circumstances, the Department of Defense may be asked to act quickly to provide and supply capabilities that other agencies simply don't have.

And third, our missions or assignments that are limited in scope where other agencies have the lead from the outset. An example of this would be security at special events, like the recent Olympics, where the Department of Defense worked in support of local authorities.

The recently revised Unified Command Plan makes a number of important changes to U.S. military command structure around the world. Indeed, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dick Myers, recently said that in his view this was the most important and significant set of changes in the unified command structure for the United States during his entire military career.

The Unified Command Plan established a combatant command for homeland defense. The U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, which we expect will be up and running by October 1st. NORTHCOM will be devoted to defending the people and territory of the United States against external threats and to coordinating the provision of U.S. military forces to support civil authorities. In addition, NORTHCOM will also be responsible for certain aspects of security, cooperation and coordination with Canada and Mexico, and will help the Department of Defense coordinate its military support to federal, state and local governments in the event of natural or other disasters.

Second, we will establish a new office within the office of the Department of Defense to handle homeland defense matters to ensure internal coordination of DOD policy direction, provide guidance to the Northern Command for its military activities in support of homeland defense, and lend support to civil authorities, and coordinate with the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies.

Third, the administration has offered legislation to establish a new undersecretary for intelligence. The primary responsibility of this office would be ensuring that the senior leadership of the Department of Defense and the combatant commanders receive the warning and actionable intelligence and counterintelligence support that they need to pursue the objectives of our new defense strategy. This new office should improve intelligence-related activities, but also provide a single point of contact for coordination with national and military intelligence activities.

Finally, I'd just like to briefly mention the two functions identified for transfer in the president's proposal from the Department of Defense to the Department of Homeland Security. The National Communications System, or NSC (ph), and the National Bioweapons Defense Analysis Center. The NSC (ph) is an interagency body of 22 departments and agencies of the federal government, in addition to its strong government and industry partnership through the president's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee. The transfer of the NSC (ph) into the Department of Homeland Security can be accomplished with little impact on DOD.

The National Bioweapons Defense Analysis Center, the mission of which would be to coordinate countermeasures to potential attacks by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction, does not yet exist. The administration's draft proposal would establish that center from the proposed $420 million in the DOD Chemical Biological Defense Program for biological homeland security efforts, which is included in the president's fiscal 2003 budget, and transfer it in its entirety to a new Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. Chairman, the Department of Defense welcomes the new Department of Homeland Security as a partner that can bring together critical functions in a new and needed way. Working together with the other agencies charged with U.S. national security, we will accomplish our common goal of ensuring the security of the American people, our territory and our sovereignty.

Thank you very much.

REP. DICK ARMEY (R), TEXAS: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

Mr. Secretary, depending upon your comfort level, you're welcome to stay, or if you do need to move on and substitute your deputy secretary, I think we will all understand.

RUMSFELD: I think I'll excuse myself.

ARMEY: Thank you, again, Mr. Secretary.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), NEW YORK: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

ARMEY: OK. Secretary Powell, we're very pleased to see that you could make it today, and anxious to hear your testimony. So please proceed.

COLIN POWELL, SECY. OF STATE: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mrs. Pelosi and members of the committee. It's a great pleasure for me to be here this morning with my colleagues.

I would like to ask the committee's indulgence for a moment to introduce two guests that I have brought with me. As I think most of the committee members will remember from my previous incarnation, I was chairman of America's Promise, the alliance for youth. And one of the programs that came out of that is an exchange program between the United States Department of State and the United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

So today, two young Americans are in the United Kingdom traveling around with the foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, Mr. Jack Straw. He has taken them to Bratislava in Europe to attend meetings with him. And in exchange, I have two young British -- a young lady and a young gentleman, who are from Surrey, England. I'd like to ask them to stand up and be recognized, Mrs. Meli Lu (ph) and Mr. Tom Miner (ph).


I couldn't bring them or take them to Bratislava or anything approaching that, so I brought them here, Mr. Chairman.


They were at a Britney Spears concert last night. They have been to a basketball game. And this is their day with the State Department to see what a secretary of state does. And I think they're having a pretty good time here in the United States.

ARMEY: If I may just say, Mr. Secretary.

We look forward to showing you that there can be something better than Britney Spears.

(LAUGHTER) POWELL: Well, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, it is a great pleasure to testify before you on this very important subject. And I congratulate you on this new committee and the work that you will be doing. It is vital work with respect to the security of our nation.

And I am pleased to appear with my colleagues to indicate my total support and the total support of the department to the new Homeland Security Department and to President Bush's proposal. We are prepared to cooperate fully with the new department. In fact, we are eager to do so.

As President Bush said in announcing the creation of this new department, we are a different nation today. The tragic events of September 11th and all those events have conveyed to us, have made us a new nation, and has made us a -- given us a new situation that we really have to deal with. And I think, Mr. Chairman, you and Ms. Pelosi have spoken to this already.

Because the fight against international terrorism is different from any other war we have fought in our history, different than any other war that I tried to prepare myself for as a soldier, or that I have fought in as a soldier over the last 40 years. It is a war that will not be one principally through military might. It will be won through all of the elements of our national power that Don Rumsfeld spoke to a moment ago -- military might, diplomatic prowess, political efforts, our intelligence effort, going after financial institutions.

And as the president has said so often, we are in this fight to win, and we will not weaken, we will not lose our resolve, we will not run out of patience. We will stick with it until those enemies who come at us in this new and different and asymmetrical way are defeated. We will fight terrorist networks and all those who support these efforts to spread fear and mayhem around the world. And we will use every instrument of our national power. And we will not be cowed, we will not be made fearful.

As Ms. Pelosi said, we all gathered last July 4th, not withstanding all of the threats that were out there and the suggestions that something terrible would happen. We all came out of our homes and went to public places to show that we are not a fearful nation. We are a nation with a spine of steel and a hear that is full of courage and we will not be made fearful by terrorists.

Progress in this campaign against terrorism will come through the patient accumulation of successes, some seen, some unseen. And we will remain forever diligent against new terrorist threats. Our goal will be reached when Americans and our friends around the world can lead their lives free of fear from terrorist attacks.

We cannot, we will not let the need to fight this war make us that different a society. We have to protect ourselves, but we must not put up tall fences, sprinkle broken glass on the tops, put a guard at the gate and seal ourselves off from the rest of the world. We must not become gated America, or they will have won. We can't let that happen. So we acquire sacrifice, dedication, energy and a great deal of wisdom to maintain this precious balance between our way of life, our openness, that which makes this America to the rest of the world. Our freedom and the security measures needed to protect our citizens to the maximum extent possible. We must fight the terrorists. We must protect the lives of our citizens, and we must not relinquish the very values that make us who we are, that have made us the greatest nation on earth.

In this regard, president Bush's proposal for a Department of Homeland Security shows the way ahead, as America does everything with its power to protect its citizens at home and abroad.

The president has also proposed that this new department assume responsibility for the policy guidance and the regulation that's required with respect to visa issuance.

As you know, our first line of defense in protecting ourselves from those who would come to our shores are our diplomats at our consulates and other locations around the world where we issue visas to people to come to America. The United States is ready to make sure that our visa system is a strong one and a secure one but, at the same time, one that encourages people to come to the United States. Once we have made sure that they are the right kinds of people to come into our nation, they are not coming in to conduct any kind of activity which would be injurious to any American.

Under the new proposal, the secretary of homeland security will determine what those policies should be. The secretary of state, the Department of State is willing, anxious to give all the authority that we currently have with respect to visa issuance, the regulations, to the secretary of homeland security. That's where it resided.

He will have access to all the intelligence information, law enforcement information, and he will make those policy judgments with respect to who should be authorized to receive a visa at our many visa-issuing facilities around the world. We will have some foreign policy input into those judgments, but I yield all of that authority willingly to the secretary of homeland security.

I consider it absolutely essential, however, that the actual issuance of the visas remain with the Department of State. We have the experience, the training, the language skills and the dedicated people to perform this mission. The State Department represents the United States at more than 200 posts around the world, where it carries out its responsibilities for conducting foreign policy, promoting trade, cooperating with foreign law enforcement authorities, and providing consular services to Americans abroad.

Our consular officers are also responsible for the issuance of visas to foreign nationals. But they have many other responsibilities. And it is difficult to shred out simply the visa- issuing responsibility from these other consular activities that take place at our various facilities.

Most visa applicants want to come here for legitimate purposes -- business, tourism, education. We want them to come to our schools. We want them to come to the United States and visit our wonderful tourist attractions. We want them to participate in healthcare activities and to come use our hospitals and other facilities.

However, some seek visas for criminal and other awful purposes, including terrorist acts. So we have been working hard to make sure that only those who mean us no ill come to this country. There is no entitlement to a visa. The judgment is that you are not entitled to a visa unless you can establish you're coming here for a legitimate purpose.

Since September 11th, we have done a lot to tighten up our system. The most important thing we have done really is to increase the size of the database available to our consular officers around the world. We will work closely with our intelligence agencies, and especially with the Justice Department and the FBI, to double the size of the database. So that when a young consular officer overseas puts a name of an applicant into that database, it comes back here and it gets the widest dissemination, so it's bounced against all the databases.

We can do an even better job of that, and I'm very pleased at the level of cooperation that has existed between the State Department, the Justice Department, the CIA, and all of the other relevant agencies to make sure that we give the broadest screening to this name before that consular officer then makes a judgment as to whether or not an interview is required or whether or not it should just be shut down out of hand, we don't want this person here.

And so I can assure you we're doing everything possible to tighten our procedures.

We've put in place a new visa called the Lincoln Visa, which I just have a sample up here, using the latest technology. The finest experts we have in our government have tried to modify this and alter it to see if they could get through this new system, and they have failed.

And we're seeing the same thing with our passports, all using digitized data -- this is my passport, and I can assure you I have one of the newest and the best -- to make sure that we are protecting ourselves.

Our consular officers did a great job. Do we have problems from time to time, have our efforts been defeated from time to time? From time to time do we have someone who does not live up to their responsibilities? Yes, that has occurred. But when we find it we go after it, as we are doing in the current case at Doha.

But do we also have officers that do a brilliant job of spotting someone who is trying to hide, trying to defeat the system? Yes, they do. The gentleman who was arrested recently, Mr. Padilla, was spotted by a consular officer who found something unusual about this particular applicant, reported it to the regional security officer. That person, being vigilant, reported it back here. We then contacted the CIA, the FBI, and others and found enough about Mr. Padilla so that when he arrived in the United States, we are waiting for him, and he was arrested and taken into custody.

These are dedicated young men and women around the world. They have a career path, they have a career track, they have the language skills. They know all of the other consular activities that take place -- that have to take place in our embassies.

In 2001 alone, we adjudicated 10 million non-immigrant visa applications and allowed 7.5 million visas to be issued, allowing these people to come into our country.

And so I want to assure the members of this committee that we take our responsibilities in the State Department and our consular responsibilities with utmost seriousness. And we are seeing what else we need to do within the consular service, within the Consular Affairs Office at the State Department, to make sure that we are doing everything to guard our nation, to guard our people, but at the same time to make sure we remain a nation of openness, a welcoming nation, that America that we all love and the world respects.

And we look forward to working with the secretary of homeland security and all the elements of the Department of Homeland Security, just as we are now working more closely with all of my colleagues at the table and the other organizations within the United States government, to make sure that we are doing these two things: protecting ourselves, but remaining an open society.

And I look forward to your questions, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.

ARMEY: Well, thank you, Mr. Secretary. And let me just say that your statement here is very reassuring to me on several points.

Secretary O'Neill, we know that you have your passport in order -- let me correct myself -- for your trip to Central Asia.

And I may remind members of the panel, the secretary does need to get off on that trip by 11 o'clock.

So, at this time, Mr. Secretary, again, thank you for your being here, and let me just turn it over to you for your statement. Thank you.

PAUL O'NEILL, TREASURY SECY.: Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the committee, it's a pleasure to be here today. And because of a shortness of time, with your permission, Mr. Chairman, I'm going to submit my statement for the record and let you proceed with the attorney general, so that we can have some opportunity for interaction before I really must go at 11 o'clock.

ARMEY: OK, I appreciate that.

POWELL: Thank you.

ARMEY: Mr. Attorney General? Let's then move on to you.

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you, Chairman Armey, and thank you, my colleague Secretary O'Neill, Congresswoman Pelosi and members of the committee. I want to thank you for convening this hearing on President Bush's plan to make America safer through enhancement of our homeland security.

On behalf of the Department of Justice, I welcome this opportunity to express our unqualified support for the president's vision of homeland security that's rooted in cooperation, nurtured by coordination, and focused on the prevention of terrorist attacks. A number of Department of Justice entities will be a part of this new department, most notably the Immigration and Naturalization Service, but also the Office for Domestic Preparedness, the analysis and training functions of the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center, and the National Domestic Preparedness Office.

The Department of Justice supports the prompt and effective implementation of these transfers, and they are critical to the Department of Homeland Security's success. I commend the Congress for its commitment to act on these measures prior to the first anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

Ten months ago to this day, our nation came under attack by an enemy that continues to threaten the United States, our citizens and the values for which we stand. Today the United States is at war with the terrorist network operating within our borders. Al Qaida maintains a hidden but active presence in the United States, waiting to strike again.

Terrorists, posing as tourists, businessmen or students, seek also to penetrate our borders. Every year the United States welcomes 35 million visitors to our country. More than 700,000 of these visitors come from countries in which Al Qaida has been active.

As a result, we have tightened control at our borders, in issuing new regulations to strengthen enforcement of our immigration laws. In June, we announced the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System.

That's the precursor to a comprehensive entry-exit system that Congress has mandated be in place by 2005.

This system reflects a fundamental fact of the war on terrorism. The fact is that information is the best friend and most valuable resource of law enforcement. The National Security Entry-Exit Registration System will track up to 200,000 visitors in the first year, stopping suspected terrorists prior to entry and verifying the activities of visitors and their whereabouts while they are in the country.

For 10 months we have conducted a campaign to identify, disrupt and dismantle the terrorist threat. Years ago the Justice Department of Robert F. Kennedy, it was said, would arrest a mobster for spitting on the sidewalk in the fight against organized crime. Well, in the war on terror it's been the policy of this Department of Justice to be similarly aggressive. We have conducted the largest criminal investigation in history; 129 individuals have been charged, 86 have been found guilty, 417 individuals have been deported for violation; hundreds more who are in violation of the law are in the process of being deported in connection with the investigation.

For 10 months we've been successful in protecting the United States from another massive terrorist attack, using every appropriate legal weapon in our arsenal. But we are not under any illusions. There remain sleeper terrorist and their supporters in the United States who have not yet been identified in a way that will allow us to take preemptive action against them. And as we limit the access of foreign terrorists to our country, we recognize that the terrorist response will be to try and recruit U.S. citizens and permanent residents to carry out their attacks.

Individuals like Abdullah al Muhajir, born Jose Padilla, who is now being detained by the Department of Defense as an enemy combatant. Al Mulhajir, a U.S. citizen with ties to the Al Qaida network, was apprehended in May of this year after we learned he was exploring a plan to explode a dirty bomb on U.S. soil.

But as terrorists have learned to adapt to the changing tactics of law enforcement, so too have we learned to adapt to the changing needs of America's domestic security. And among the chief lessons we have learned in the past 10 months is that our ability to protect the homeland today has been undermined by restrictions of the decades of the past.

In the late '70s, reforms were enacted in our judicial system reflecting a cultural myth, a myth that we could draw an artificial line at the border to differentiate between the threats that we faced. In accordance with this myth, officials charged with detecting and deterring those seeking to harm Americans were divided into separate and isolated camps. Government created a culture of compartmentalization that artificially segregated intelligence- gathering from law enforcement.

This barred coordination of our nation's security between these groups. Barriers to information-sharing were erected between government agencies, and cooperation faltered. FBI agents were forced to blind themselves to information readily available to the general public, including those who seek to harm us. Information restrictions hindered our intelligence-gathering capabilities, and terrorists gained a competitive technological advantage over law enforcement.

September 11th made clear in the most painful of terms that there were costs associated with the myth that we could separate the threat internationally from the threat domestically.

We know now that Al Qaida fragmented its own operation to prevent the United States from grasping the magnitude of its threat. The September 11th events were planned -- or trained for in Afghanistan, planned in Europe, financed through the Middle East, and executed in the United States. Al Qaida planned carefully and deliberately to exploit the seams in our security, the seam between the international agencies and the domestic agencies.

In the months and years preceding September 11th, our weaknesses were among the terrorists' greatest strengths. It's now our obligation and our necessity to correct these deficiencies of the past. America's law enforcement and justice institutions, as well as the culture that supports them, must change. And in the wake of September 11th, America's security requires a new approach; one nurtured by cooperation, collaboration, coordination, not compartmentalization. One focused on a single over-arching goal, the prevention of terrorist attacks.

The first crucial steps toward building this new culture of cooperation have already been taken. They are the steps that could be taken by regulation and some by legislation. The United States Congress is to be commended for acting swiftly to enact the USA Patriot Act, which made significant strides toward both fostering information-sharing and updating our badly outmoded information- gathering tools. Intelligence agents now have greater flexibility to coordinate their anti-terrorism efforts with our law enforcement agencies. And the Patriot Act made clear that surveillance authorities created in an era of rotary telephones, while those authorities needed to be able to apply to cell phones and the Internet and the digital technology, as well.

In addition, the recently announced reorganization of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has refocused the FBI on prevention, taking a proactive approach. Instead of being bound by outmoded organization charts, the FBI work force, management and organizational culture will be flexible enough to launch new terrorism investigations to counter threats as they emerge.

Five hundred agents will be shifted permanently to counterterrorism. Agents in the field have been given the new flexibility to use expanded investigative techniques. Special agents in charge of FBI field offices are empowered to make more decisions based on their specific knowledge of the terrorist threat.

Finally, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security will be the institutionalization of the culture of cooperation and coordination that's essential to our nation's security. Part of our reorganization is the enhancement of the FBI's analytic capacity and the coordination of its activities more closely with the CIA. The results of this enhanced analysis and cooperation will be shared fully with the Department of Homeland Security.

For the first time, America will have under one roof the capacity for government to work together to identify and assess threats to our homeland, to match these threats to our vulnerabilities, and to ensure our safety and security. In accordance with the president's vision, creation of the Department of Homeland Security will begin a new era of cooperation and coordination in defending America's homeland.

Mr. Chairman, history has called us to a new challenge -- to protect America's homeland. But history has also provided us with the lessons we would do well to heed. We must build a new culture of justice in which necessary information is readily available to law enforcement. We must foster a new ethic of cooperation and coordination in government. We must make our institutions accountable, not just to their antiterrorism missions, but to the American people they serve. We must always do this in respecting our Constitution and the rights which America is uniquely aware of and which America uniquely protects.

I thank you for your leadership and this opportunity to testify.

ARMEY: Thank you.

And let me thank all my panelists -- our panelists.

We're now going to proceeding for questions under the five-minute rule, and I might advise the committee that I will try to stick as strictly as possible to that.

KAGAN: Sounds like they are going to be taking questions. Maybe we want to listen in a little bit to the questions? All right, we don't. We've been listening to Attorney General John Ashcroft, also Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, and Paul O'Neill, the treasury secretary, and Secretary of State Colin Powell. A lot of power sitting before this newly created House committee on homeland security. They're looking on how do you form this new department that the president wants to put together on homeland security.

Let's bring in our Capitol Hill correspondent Kate Snow to look at what we heard.

Kate, if people listening closely, I think they could sense the difficulty in creating this, because if you -- we're just kind of listening casually, it sounded like, yes, rah, rah, you had all these secretaries saying going, yes, we love this idea, but if you listen more carefully, you would hear the fine tuning , f yes, we love it but don't take this away from our department. Don't restructure it in this way.

KATE SNOW, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you do hear a little bit of that, although I think the rah, rah is probably more so than the criticism, but particularly from Secretary of State Colin Powell, did you hear him talking about visas. He mentioned it for about three pages in his statement there. Why he's talking about that is because right now, the way things work, the INS is involved, but the State Department consular offices in embassies and consulates all over the world are the people who ultimately give out visas to foreign nationals who want to come and visit the United States.

And in the president's plan, he is now putting a Homeland Security Department in charge of being the final arbiter of visas, and making the decision about visas. Secretary of State Powell saying, well, don't take it all away from us, make sure that we still have a role in that. He pointed out how a lot of their consular officers speak in languages. This is a way for them to be promoted up through the career of Foreign Service. He's been very adamant about wanting to keep some of that power for the State Department, because it's been such a long history with them.

You also heard Secretary Rumsfeld talking. If you read between the lines of what he said, he was saying, well, we don't have a whole lot to do with homeland security for the most part, but you don't really need to take a lot away from my Department of Defense, and then if you listened to Attorney General Ashcroft, he talked about the need to correct the deficiencies of the past. He did not mention, Daryn, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which has been a real hot potato here on Capitol Hill.

One committee yesterday voted about this bill, you know they're making a lot of preliminary judgments right now on Capitol Hill. All the committees are taking their slices of this and working on it, doing what they call "marking up the bill," just the nitty-gritty work that has to be done. The Judiciary Committee said let's not move the entire Immigration and Naturalization Service over to the Homeland Security Department as the president has asked us to do; let's just move the enforcement branch and leave the people that do things like green cards, the services for immigrants, leave them over in the Justice Department under Ashcroft. You notice he didn't bring that up at all, which I thought was interesting, considering that's been a real hot potato up here.

All this sort of will be the real basics of how this department is going to work, Daryn, that they're trying to iron out. This committee is supposed to write the House version of the bill, starting next week.

KAGAN: They have their work cut out for them. I think one of the most interesting sites was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who went first when he had that huge cast on his hand. I got some messages from our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr explaining that the secretary has arthritis, had thumb surgery on Monday, and actually hasn't been at the Pentagon since Monday, and he went first, so I don't think he's feeling too hot.

ZAHN: I tell you, he passed in hallway, I said, "Mr. Secretary, how are you feeling?" And he said, "Terrific." I thought he might have seemed a little bit sarcastic. He didn't want to come I think this morning. I say that because Barbara Starr had reported this morning that some of his aides were saying, he wasn't coming, and then I was told by the people on the committee that in fact he was, because the White House told him he had to be here -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Let me guess, you didn't shake his hand as he walked through the hallway.


KAGAN: That would have been a bad move. Kate Snow on Capitol Hill. Thanks so much. The secretaries that are left are now taking questions. We are listening in to see if anything if anything newsworthy comes out of that. If it does, we will share it with you here on CNN.




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